So what’s the story? This new delivery service is similar to the flurry of restaurant DIY kits – with one exception. There’s no restaurant attached: instead, it’s a project that Michelin-trained Walthamstow-based chef Andy Bowler set up from scratch just after the first lockdown, when he was made redundant, like so many others in hospitality.
What’s his background? Well, Andy’s position is enviable, with a decade slogging it out as sous chef at some of London’s most acclaimed restaurants: Michael Roux Jr, Roganic by Simon Rogan (the bloke behind the two-star L’Enclume in Cumbria) and Gordon Ramsay’s Petrus. So, if you’re nervous about risking your hard-earned on a posh meal-kit, you’re in safe hands.
So what’s the offer? Firstly, it’s special occasion treat territory – three courses for £45 per person, with an additional home-made bread course: our malt buns, with a really savoury yeast butter, were delicious. The menu changes weekly and service takes place on Friday and Saturdays, with everything arriving fully prepared and extremely carefully labelled in ethical packaging. There are also detailed instructions of how to heat and plate (including photos) – and even some extra tips to serve. It’s hand delivered in a stylish box.
Now: talk us through the food. When the box arrives – ours was delivered by Andy – a tip is to empty the box into the fridge, and store each course’s items together which makes it easier to serve. The starter was a vegan plate of golden beetroot (main pic, above), diced in cubes which simply needed to be heaped in the middle of the plate, with walnut pieces scattered on top. Gels and sauces come in those cheffy piping bags (pint-sized of course) and a steady hand must pipe pickled walnut gel (nine dots only!) onto the beetroot before arranging pre-sliced radish, apple and celery. To finish, a vivid green apple and celery sauce is carefully poured around the dish, as well as a few herbs and shoots: the result is a sensationally fresh, seasonal, palate-cleansing plate.
And mains? These were also simple to heat and serve. Seabass – rolled and stuffed with spinach – comes with sea herbs, baby leeks, two little cylinders of prawn mousse and a fantastically rich glossy brown umami-packed prawn sauce that’ll have you licking the plate clean. My partner thought the second main better still: a simple-to-assemble pearl barley risotto layered with wild mushrooms, pickled onions, herbs and crispy onions, with a real flavourbomb – smoked cheddar sauce – spooned around it. We shared both, but of course you may want to hog one to yourself.
How about dessert? We gobbled one and saved the other for the next day: pleasingly wobbly buttermilk panna cotta is served with vivid pink rhubarb prepared in a handful of ways – poached, raw slithers and as a just-right tart sauce, as well as a rhubarb gel – and really tasty vanilla creme (yep, piping bags at the ready again). There’s oat crumb and edible flowers to finish, too. Afterwards, we sipped an espresso with the home-made chocolate truffles.
What about wine? Andy has teamed up with E17-based Forest Wines (@forestwinese17), who pair each meal with a good vino. Or do as we did, which is support your own independent wine store. We plumped for Yardarm’s good-value Cremant and their light Sicilian red Mandrarossa Frappato which, served chilled, goes well with fish.
Overall verdict? It’s all fairly effortless, and feels tastebud-tinglingly impressive without too much faff, especially once you’ve had a glass of fizz and want to relax. And as we’ve found with previous posh DIY kits, the experience is as memorable – if not more so – as a restaurant. Another tip: it’s enjoyable to take the courses slowly over a long leisurely Saturday afternoon lunch, rather than the pressure of an evening, which allowed time for an evening stroll afterwards.
Anything else we should know? If you want to try it this month, get in quick as Andy’s limited production means the DIY boxes sell out every week, with menus announced roughly a fortnight upfront.
Leytonstoner ate as guests of Indulge Dining. If you are a restaurant or food delivery service and you’d like us to consider you for this column, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org